Seven years is more than enough time for a franchise like Aikatsu! to do an anime mega-crossover. However, it’s one thing to do the occasional crossover movie or TV special, and it’s another to make an entire series about it. Having watched the first couple of episodes, I can feel a genuine desire to celebrate and respect all aspects of Aikatsu!, but I have to wonder if they’re letting the genie out of the bottle.
The Aikatsu on Parade! Anime (based on the arcade game) ostensibly takes place in the same world as the previous season’s Aikatsu Friends! Kiseki Raki is a transfer student to Star Harmony Academy, where she dreams of becoming a great idol fashion designer. Unbeknownst to her, Raki’s sister has engineered a special school pass for her that in addition to allowing her to transform for performances, gives her access to “doors” that open up to other Aikatsu! series settings.
There’s a lot of care put into this new series to not make Raki seem like a subordinate fangirl to the previously established stars. Her fashion path, more akin to numerous side characters, doesn’t put her in as direct a “competition” with the older heroines. Also, her personality (basically Dee Dee from Dexter’s Laboratory with a little more common sense) is strong enough to not get outshined by the characters she meets. That being said, she’s still yet to meet the titan that is Hoshimiya Ichigo, which will be the real test. I recently watched the premiere of WWE Friday Night Smackdown, which had The Rock on as a guest, and his charisma is so strong that it overshadowed even one of the biggest current stars in that company.
Perhaps the easiest place to tell that the creators are being thoughtful and considerate as to how the Aikatsu! characters would cross over is the first episode’s ending, where you see practically every significant character ever walking together. They’re grouped in rough categories according to a combination of personality and story purpose, and you can really see that it’s not shallow or haphazard.
Of course Mizuki and Elza would be with each other, and you can imagine each one firmly believing she’s the best. Given that the new series is also going to be having characters from different series singing and dancing together, it’s a golden opportunity for some dream collaborations.
I’m curious as to why they decided to make each of the Aikatsu! series distinct…universes? Timelines? Whatever it is, they establish early on that all these idol schools aren’t just in different parts of Japan—they exist entirely apart from one another, as if they’re wholly separate existences. There’s no wrong approach here, but I’d still like to know the creators’ reasoning for going this route.
Aikatsu on Parade! is on track to being a fun, excellent series that gives Aikatsu! as a whole its proper due. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that this is precarious territory for a franchise to go. Is there really any going back after this? What will it mean for the future of Aikatsu!? There’s no way to tell at the moment, but hopefully everyone in charge knows what they’re doing.
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